Falling Forward: Self-Driving Cars Will Satisfy My Laziness
We just don’t want to do the things we used to do.
That is the pessimistic view, of course. We are all willing to be lazy, or at least lean over to the slothful side of life. It’s not a positive way to look at human nature, I know. We don’t want to work all that hard. We don’t want to be careful about what we eat. We don’t want to drive.
Well, think about it. How else can we explain the explosion of Uber? If you combine Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others there are millions of rides provided per day. Populations the size of entire countries are picked up and dropped elsewhere every single day.
So what. It’s a convenient way to get around.
You bet. It’s so easy. Millions of times a day in cities across the globe a potential rider just taps their app. (Application takes too much labor to type, let’s all just use “app” from now on, okay?)
After the rider requests a ride a driver pulls up to greet the party within 60 seconds. “I can’t believe how fast you picked me up” is a common expression. Ask any rideshare driver. Compare that to waiting in a staggering line for a cab at any major airport; or call a taxi company to send a car to your home in any boring residential neighborhood. “Be there in 30 to 40 minutes” would be the typical response, with an “if you are lucky” muttered after the call ends.
The scale astounds me. Uber reports they have over one million drivers. And the drivers are apparently regular folks like you and me who decided to turn their personal car into a commercial enterprise.
This is not a review of the obvious benefits offered by rideshare service providers. I am interested in the convenience factors and the affect this will have on our lives. It is stress-free to use a rideshare service. This is undeniable. It is evidenced in the groundswell of loyal users. Hordes of them. Riders that have quickly become addicted to a lifestyle. “I Uber every day and I don’t think I could live without it.”
Oh, you Uber? It’s a verb now as well?
It is. I Uber. I Google. I Facebook. And, I text.
But let me get back to my point. We don’t want to drive ourselves around anymore. In fact, we find driving a complete inconvenience.
Here is a confession. I do not honestly remember what I used to do at a red light. Seriously. If I am going to be forced to sit in a motionless vehicle for an extended period of time, such as 45 seconds, I certainly am going to entertain myself reading three tweets (I understand that reading just one tweet every 15 seconds is showing my age). What did I do prior to smartphones? Did I really just sit and watch traffic? Or actually pay attention to what was on the radio? I have no memory of this.
So the pessimist in me says we are lazy. But if I play devil’s advocate I can see the other side. It is magnificent to have other people drive me around. That way I can watch streaming professional sports videos instead of looking both ways at an intersection. I can catch up on emails that have been sitting around for lord knows how long, sometimes hours.
Someone is driving the car though, so you can’t say all of us are lazy.
True. I mean, you tell me if this sounds like the job an unmotivated individual would seek out.
Being an Uber driver means you have no boss. It requires no schedule you are required to follow. The opportunity to pick up a rider is gentle chime. A low-pressure request displayed within the driver app. There is a window of time you can choose to accept the pickup request. “Do I want to pick up Stephanie? I don’t know. Sure.” Or, you can let the opportunity pass you by and not accept the work assignment. You are willing to gamble the next chime from a rider is closer to where you are already.
Alright. Let’s be fair. Rideshare drivers are not employees of these companies (At least not yet. Google the topic.). They are in fact self-motivated entrepreneurs who are waking up early and getting a few rides in before their “regular jobs”. They work a full day, chow down and then get behind the wheel on nights and weekends to make that extra money they need to stretch their family budget. They are even full time drivers who like being their own boss and controlling their own hours.
It’s a good job, and people out there need work, so shut your elitist pie hole.
That is an appropriate response to my attitude. I just wonder where this will lead.
The answer is driverless cars, of course. There will come a day when even the drivers would rather be passengers. They will be offered other ways to make money and stop. So, both traditional taxi and rideshare companies will not be able to resist having fleets of self-driving vehicles under their control. The entire fare paid by a rider will go to the company rather than the spoils being shared with drivers.
Yes, there is no doubt the entire rideshare phenomenon will end with millions of vehicles patrolling our neighborhoods without a human at the wheel. I will be picked up within minutes of tapping the app and head off to work. I will go to lunch and after I am done at the restaurant I will touch the screen to signal I need a ride back to work.
I will somehow survive the tortuously long afternoon toiling away at my job. Then I’ll request a Suberu, which is what we’ll call those driverless cars from Uber. I’ll head on home for more chow, fire up some automated entertainment (I’ll watch six seasons of that show in a record three days). And when I am ready to go shopping another headless horseman automobile will scoot me over to the mall. I’ll ride the electric staircase (thank you) up and down as I window shop and consider if the effort of going all the way into certain stores is worth it.
I’ll have a Suberu take me to meet four friends for dinner. We’ll all get way too drunk to legally drive. Then we’ll all tap a request for transport. We’ll laugh at the caravan as they slow to a confused crawl trying to politely negotiate with each other while forming in a line at the curb to pick us all up.
Yes, that’s how it will go with self-driving cars. It is too tempting. And we are too lazy to fight it.
That’s falling forward.